I think one of the most damaging things diets have done is taken away hope for people. Understand that every client I have ever met with in the last 16 years has been on an average of 20 diets (some more) and have never successfully lost weight. When I say successfully, I mean maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping the weight off.

Why do you suppose that there is such a high number of "diet casualties?" It is because everyone that goes on a diet is led to believe it's so easy "Even a Caveman can do it." How must it feel to fail over and over again? I know, I've been there. It feels lousy, you feel like a loser, an undisciplined person who can't seem to be successful. The more diets you go on, the worse you feel and it's a constant battle. And for many, they feel that the result of their failure is visible for the world to see, it's a horrible feeling.

There are 2 distinct reasons that diets do not work. First, they are restrictive and rarely are adaptable for different lifestyles and different people. Second, they are all about losing weight and when you're done, there is nothing.

And yes, I know, I know, there are maintenance programs out there, I know that but those don't work either. I won't mention specific diets, but the truth is diets are not meant to help people succeed, the history of diets clearly shows that.

So, I decided to share with you what I believe to be important components for long term success. And I think the clients that I work one-on-one with can attest to the fact that I do not and will not focus on weight. I focus on change, because at the end of the day, that's the only thing that works. In addition to change is the willingness to change and if those two pieces are in place, you have a great foundation. So following are the strategies I believe one needs to develop and maintain for a healthy lifestyle.

1. Being healthy doesn't happen overnight. FIRST one must understand that it's a long road, it's not fast, it's not easy but the journey can be pretty amazing you just have to be willing to lay out your plan.

2. There will be natural peaks and valleys. When I work with clients the most important thing to do is understand lifestyle. Every client I work with is different in personality, priorities and lifestyle so whatever strategies you implement there will always be "tweaking" involved. Diets are black and white. You have to have grey and understand that some weeks will be great and some will be not so great, oh well. It's staying on course as much as possible versus the diet mentality of, "I blew it, I'm done!" Stuff happens, move on.

3. Exploration. You must be willing to explore new foods and new physical endeavors. Look, I've worked with people 200 pounds overweight, the last thing I'm going to ask them to do is go out for a run. But everyone believes running is somehow the only activity for fit people, not so. You can't run before you learn to walk and getting healthy is a series of progressions. You have to find what makes sense to you by experimenting with different foods and different activities. A whole new world just may open up for you. There is no right or wrong, only what works for you and will stay with you.

4. Find a coach, a cheerleader someone that you can call or email when you're struggling. I tell my clients all the time, email me if you're struggling or if you've had a breakthrough, I want to know both the challenges and the successes. If you can find someone who can support you along the way and continue long after (remember, the work isn't in necessarily losing weight, it's the maintenance and that's when you need support.)

5. Think positive thoughts. If I had a dime for every client that has come to a session saying, "I've been 'bad' this week." I'd be rich! Murder is bad, eating a French fry is not bad, it wasn't your greatest accomplishment for the week, but it's not bad. Remember to think about the things you're doing well, not the things you didn't do well. The more you can focus on the positive, the more likely you'll be to stay positive. Again, stuff happens, move on.

6. Connect your body with your mind. For most people struggling with weight, the mind-body connection has been lost. Part of what I encourage clients to do is to reconnect with their body, being aware of how it "feels" when physical activity is increased. How it "feels" when sound nutrition is consumed. How it "feels" when you stretch or lift weights, or fit in to a chair more easily. Being aware of the positive response from your body when you're treating it well is key to staying focused on healthy habits.

7. Believe you can change. I believe every client that walks through my door has the ability to change and be successful. Unfortunately they don't share my optimism. But belief has to start somewhere. Through my encouragement, clear direction and understanding of their struggle, it eventually gets them close to believing in their success. As they make progress without the safety nets of diets, they become empowered, more successful and ultimately they believe in their ability to succeed. So believe in yourself, I do!

So think about these strategies and how you can begin implementing them in to your life.

As summer approaches, get out and enjoy. Allow your body and mind to take in the season and find ways to be more active, take advantage of farmers markets. Why not start a small garden of your own? Drink plenty of water and stay focused on your health. When you make choices based on health versus weight, you will find your choices to be significantly more thoughtful and sensible.

In health,


Author's Bio: 

Nicki Anderson has been involved in the health and fitness industry for almost 30 years. As an obese teen, Nicki strives to educate others on the steps to take to lose weight and life life healthy and happy. An outspoken opponent of "fad diets" Anderson encourages others to make healthy changes that make sense for your life and your goals.